This production had dual casts in the principal roles. In the interests of fairness, we reviewed both casts.
Allison Thomas reviewed the Summer Cast.
From the opening scene, where the King and Queen of Arendelle bring out two REAL babies, to the closing reprise of “Let it go” by the entire cast and all of the enthusiastic audience, Pelican Productions of Disney’s Frozen Junior (Summer cast) on Opening Night was beautiful, high energy and a high professional standard.
“Frozen Junior” is based on the fairy tale “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen, and the Disney movie from 2013. Most people know the adapted story of Princesses Elsa and Anna, two sisters torn apart by strange magic and circumstances seemingly beyond their control. Their special friends are Olaf the Snowman, Kristoff The Iceman and his reindeer Sven, Pappie and the healing trolls, who help them find their own power and self confidence and triumph over the evil Prince Hans, with unconditional love, to live and reign in peace.
Jen Frith designed the rainbow-hued costumes, which which were very colourful. Sophie Morris’ wigs, and props were all well chosen. The special effects, Vision Design and Animation by Ray Cullen, were well planned and executed perfectly.
Minimalistic stage setting relied on huge screens for backdrops and Mosaic AV is also to be congratulated for their stunning videos and graphics. Lighting Design by Jen Frith and Operation by Campbell Lawrence was excellent.
Choreography by Maddie Lochert and Tayla Prime was amazing. All the ensemble danced together like a well rehearsed, perfected troupe; with special mention of the maypole dancers and the creative wave dance when the King and Queen were lost at sea.
The two placid babies need special mention – Elsa (Edie Frith) and Anna (Hazel Frith) who seem to belong to the producer Jen Frith.
Abigail Sharp’s great voice and fluid, energetic actions projected her sunny personality as Anna. Lluka Wadey as Elsa provided contrast with her strong, straight and controlled performance, especially singing “Let it go”.
Aiden Salmon stole the show whenever he had the spotlight as Olaf the Snowman – he was very cheeky and very cute. CJ Parkinson, as Sven the reindeer, was also a cheerful, playful character. Noah Byrne was Kristoff, the ice man, who performed well as the often reluctant hero.
The lovely dancer Snowflake, Ava Sirico, was in both casts and personified Elsa’s magic in a simple beautiful way.
Ben Francis’ Musical Direction was excellent. With appropriate sound levels in all songs and background, we could hear all the words to the songs clearly. Jamie Mensforth’s Sound Design was well mixed by Jess Delbridge to enhance the visual special effects. Congratulations to the Producers Jen Frith and Kylie Green, Director Georgia Broomhall, and all the other people involved (too numerous to mention), for an outstanding production, organizing 45 young adults (and 2 babies) into a well-polished team of terrific teen actors, singers and dancers.
Kym Clayton reviewed the Winter cast.
Directed by Georgia Broomhall and produced by the energetic and ever industrious Jen Frith and Kylie Green, Pelican have put together a show with very strong production elements. In particular the lighting (by Frith) and scenic visual projections and animations (by Ray Cullen) that essentially are the set, are first rate and smell of significant financial investment. The young people on stage likely don’t know how privileged they are! As is usually the case with Disney licensed ‘junior’ productions, the rights come with (not inexpensive) pre-recordings of the music which is a great plus to the production company. Music Director Ben Francis takes solid advantage of this and has trained his cast well in singing with the score. A disadvantage of using prerecorded music is that it removes the option of reregistering parts of the score. There were several songs that challenged the soloists, and they may have benefited from a key change. Additionally, the signature number “Let it Go” was too loud in the early verses for the soloist (Ella Wood) to be heard clearly. Later in the song, where it sat more comfortably in her tessitura, she was able to sing more passionately and freely, and was encouraged by the adoring audience when she reached and sustained the high E-flats!
Ella Wood plays ‘Princess Elsa’ with benevolence and aloofness – fitting for someone who is destined to become ruler and who possesses an (unwanted) awesome power (the ability to freeze things, and people!). Save the one reservation mentioned above, her vocals are excellent.
Inara Lang plays her younger sister “Anna” with delightful simplicity and endears herself to the audience almost immediately. Lang’s vocals too are of a high quality.
Reo Gerhardy as ‘Prince Hans’ portrays niceness and innocence when he first courts Anna, and convincingly shows his darker side when the opportunity arises. Gerhardy shows promise as an actor.
Henry Green plays the humble “Kristoff” in a gentle matter-of-fact way and immediately communicates to the audience that he is destined for greater things.
Casper Saint-Saens is a delight as a diminutive Weselton. The physical juxtaposition of him with Elsa is a comic highlight, and he plays the role for all its worth.
Ava Sirico is “Snowflake” – the living and dancing embodiment of Elsa’s cryogenic abilities. She dances beautifully with poise and confidence, and we don’t see her enough!
Isabella Haarsma plays “Olaf” the snowman and does it fabulously well. It’s a nicely constructed comic role for an actor with charm and timing, and Haarsma has both those qualities by the spadeful.
Poppi Bryans plays “Sven” the reindeer and has a smile that fills the stage.
Teagan Garvey and Porsha Daldry play “King Agnaar” and “Queen Iduna” with regalness and kindness. Both clearly have acting smarts and the ability to create a sense of ‘presence’ on stage!
This is a terrific production. It is bright, colourful, musical, energetic, technically excellent, and it never lets up in pace. Although the thematic messages are a little subdued by the abbreviated text, the fundamental message that love will eventually win through comes over clearly.